Bulbine Natalensis to the rescue

I have often read about the medicinal properties of Bulbine latifolia (Natalensis), but I have never really made the effort to investigate them.  However, yesterday two events occurred that impressed upon me how important it is to keep this plant close at hand.

Firstly, as I was puttering around in the wild garden, I blundered into a wasp nest.  Running hell for leather through the veld, slapping and squealing, I escaped from their territory with 7 or 8 burning stings.  I recalled that there was a Bulbine latifolia quite close by and I squashed the copious juice from a leaf onto the stings.  The relief was instant and there was no immediate swelling or itching.

Later in the afternoon my son came home from a trip to PE with a swollen arm, blazing red with sunburn.  This time I did not hesitate.  I collected a few of the fat, juicy leaves, opened them, smeared the juice over his arm and laid the leaves over his arm as a dressing.  He left them on for about 20 minutes, by which time the pain had drastically receded, the swelling had gone down and his arm felt cool to the touch.  Today his arm is tender but neither hot nor red.

I have never had this kind of instant and permanent relief from creams and ointments sold at the chemist.  From now on I’ll make sure that I have a plant or two outside the kitchen door for burns and scalds, as well as a few dotted here and there in the garden for stings.  I wonder if it helps with other insect bites?

Bulbine latifolia is easily grown from seed.

Note: The name was officially changed from Bulbine natalensis to Bulbine latifolia so time ago but confusion reigns and many sources still used the older name.

Bulbine latifolia
Bulbine latifolia
Bulbine latifolia



Hi...in my experience this wonderful plant can be used for any insect bites or stings - even bluebottles! I sometimes suffer from giant urticaria & it's a huge relief to smear on the juice & use the leaves as a dressing. I know that it can also be smeared on small wounds (cuts) to stop the bleeding & act as an anti-inflammatory....it must have coagulating properties. I have been told that it can be a deterrent to snakes as they apparently don't like to move through the leaves but I have no proof of this! Our staff have all opted to have these plants near their homes because of their medicinal uses.

In Kenya this wonderful plant is used for all kinds of injuries and I have used it very successfully on puff adder bites AFTER the application and use of injectible cortisone, antihistamine and antibiotics. I have also used it to exise baboon spider bites (on myself andmy livestock) It is very useful in the healing of the necrotic sight in both spider and snake bites
. It offers instant relief to burns and stings and it is my first 'go to' for cuts and abrasions. Interesting that it has a high cortisone/hormone content.

Thanks for the information Carol. I have also ensured my staff all have plants and I give seeds of this plant to every visitor to the nursery.

Thanks for this information. What would be a comparable plant to use in the UK?

Hi Diane

I am afraid I can't help you with this. I really only know about South African indigenous plants. However, if you can get seeds you will be able to grow this bulbine in a pot on a sunny windowsill.


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